CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new savings program in West Virginia allows people with disabilities to put money aside for expenses like rent, transportation, education and training.

State Treasurer John Perdue joined Governor Jim Justice Friday at the state Capitol to launch the West Virginia Achieving a Better Life (WVABLE) program.

“This is going to give them the opportunity to experience that life on their own because there’s going to be money set aside that is tax free and that won’t penalize them with their federal benefits. They’ll be able to enjoy life more independently after their loved ones are gone,” Perdue said.

Individuals may save up to $15,000 per year in the WVABLE account. It’s similar to the Treasurer’s SMART 529 college savings program.

WVABLE was created after Congress passed the ABLE Act. Before it passed, people receiving government benefits were restricted to the amount of money they could save or invest without losing public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.

Kevin Smith, of Parkersburg, was one of the first people to sign up for the plan. He is bound to a wheel chair.

“It will give me freedom to have money if I have an emergency with my chair or my glasses or a home repair,” he said. “It will make people more independent in their every day lives, in their medical and in their home.”

Denise Campbell, of Elkins, has a 15 year old son with autism. She said the plan allows her to invest in her son Logan’s future.

“Being a mother of a child with a disability, this is an Act and an account that allow me to have peace of mind and end the fear of how is Logan going to be taken care of when I’m no longer here to take care of him?” she said.

The WVABLE account comes with a loadable debit card and has features similar to a checking account.

To sign up for an account, log onto WVABLE.com.

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